HIV testing in primary care: a small-scale qualitative study to gain understanding

Rebecca Kelly1 and Joanne Garside2
1Registered Nurse Adult; 2Principal Lecturer, University of Huddersfield

Abstract
Background: Approximately 10,400 people are living with HIV but are unaware of their condition. Late diagnosis can impact on quality of life and prognosis is, therefore, a significant health issue.
Method: A qualitative research study was used with primary care clinicians to ascertain knowledge, understanding and current practices of clinicians to promote HIV testing of high-risk individuals in primary care. Using semi-structured interviews (n=7) the questioning focused on HIV testing guidelines, prevalence, late diagnosis and perceptions of where best to test. Interview data were thematically analysed.
Results: Avoidance, paternalism, resources and knowledge were the emergent final themes. In brief, none of the clinicians could name or reference any guidance on HIV testing. One had heard of self-testing and the majority were unsure about its efficacy, reliability and its impact on resources. Most were concerned about the psychological impact.
Conclusion: Participants in this study had a lack of knowledge of guidance; however, they demonstrated a readiness to improve their practice. Recommendations focus on education, awareness and a promotion of lowering the threshold for testing in areas with a higher than national average late diagnosis.